Lumber prices take a nose dive

by Lauren Grand, OSU Extension Forestry and Natural Resources serving Lane County

Things are a little bit chaotic these days. Had I written this article last week I would be telling you log prices are high for the summer. Since then, lumber prices have taken a dive, and in response, log prices have come down a bit from the last couple of months. Most mills have a good inventory, having prepared well for the summer demand with fire season in mind. This along with decreased lumber prices means some mills aren’t actively looking for logs, but other mills are in high demand. It is a good idea to call around and see what buyers are looking for before cutting gets underway.

Douglas-fir prices are currently sitting in the $700-800 per thousand board feet (mbf), with fire affected logs still being accepted with a price reduction.  Prices in the greater Roseburg area are slightly lower.

Usually I don’t have much to say about chips, but prices seem to be on the rise recently. The export market seems to be picking up and there is a higher demand for whole log chippers. Prices are in the $27- $28 /ton range at the time of this report. 

Speaking of export market, the Japanese export log is really strong right now, assuming you are close to the ports. These logs are fetching prices in the high $900 mbf range. 

Poles are still strong and buyers are actively looking. Short poles are looking good in the $900 -$1000 /mbf and the 65+ footers are around $1200 /mbf. Poles tend to follow Douglas-fir trends, so if sawlog prices continue to come down you should expect pole prices to follow.

The Hem-fir sorts (spruce, hemlock, grand and white fir) vary quite a bit depending on who you talk to. Some are in high demand and some are trying to avoid them. Those that are in demand are asking exciting prices in the $700 /mbf range, much higher than I’ve reported in the last year. Much of these more exciting prices are a result of opportunities opening up in the export markets.   

Typically, trends in the Alder market follow Douglas-fir and have come down along with maple about $25 /mbf. Aldar offers prices in the upper $600 per thousand price range. Maple is sitting in the upper $300 per thousand range.

Redcedar prices are coming down a bit, but $1600 per thousand is a very respectable price. Incense-cedar in the Eugene area is holding around $550/mbf and $650/mbf in Douglas County area. Port-Orford-cedar prices are hovering in the $400-$600 range.

I sure am glad the heat has taken a break and the mornings are starting to feel a bit like fall. Hope this gets you in the Christmas spirit because if you are in the non-timber forest products game it is time to start thinking about Christmas Greenery-cones, boughs, and Christmas trees. Oregon grape and cascara season has closed, but usnea lichen is still an interest. Usnea prices have slightly increased to $5.75/lb clean and dry.

While finishing up this report, I’m not feeling my usual excited self. That might be that I’ve been stuck in the house for a year and a half now, or it is because all the prices seem to be going down. Despite decreasing prices, log buyers are still excited for the fourth quarter and everyone is hoping things turn around again before too long. Prices have been swinging up and down recently, so call around to get the purchase orders that work the best for you and your wood. It might be sooner than later that prices look better than what I can offer in this report. Good luck and always remember to get your purchase order before you cut!

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